May 10, 2016
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 10 May 2016
History records that Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, once captured a prince and his family. When they appeared before the king, Cyrus asked the prince, “What will you give me if I release you?” The prince replied, “The half of my wealth.” Cyrus then asked, “What if I release your children?” “Everything I possess” was the response. Cyrus asked a final question: “What will you give me for your wife to be released?” The prince replied, “Your Majesty, I will give myself.” The prince inspired Cyrus to such a degree that the king decreed all the family to be released. As the family returned home, the prince asked his wife, “Cyrus was truly a handsome man!” With a look of intense love for her husband, the prince’s wife remarked, “I did not notice. I could only keep my eyes affixed upon you—the one who was willing to give himself for me” [Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1997, 2009) 145].
Sacrifice is a primary emphasis of Hebrews 13. Scripture reveals what are the sacrifices that are pleasing to God. The consecrated life -- through devotion and sacrifice -- is a subject that C. S. Lewis wisely addressed.
If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you[,] you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself [Mere Christianity, rev. ed. (New York: Collier Books, 1952) 75].
The wonder of biblical sacrifice is that in giving, one finds true identity. Hebrews 13:10 thus contains much symbolism to contrast the privileges of those who are believers with those who are not. Mere ritual provides no access to the benefits that Christ makes available. Faith in Jesus Christ provides a relationship with God from which unbelief separates. Believers have contact with Christ himself and thus live with daily experience of his benefits.
Christians do enjoy spiritual access to the offering that Jesus presented on their behalf (Heb 13:11). Verses 12-13 further explain the knowledge that Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem (John 19:20). Jesus died “that He might sanctify the people through His own blood.” God grants eternal rewards to those who bear the “reproach” of Jesus.
Commitment to Christ is evident in two aspects: (1) living with an eternal perspective; and, (2) living in enjoyment of togetherness (Heb 13:14). The sacrifice that believers offer today is that of praise, "that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" and persevering in "doing good and sharing" (13:15-16). God finds much pleasure in those who seek to do “good” and share, in contrast to actions and attitudes that are earthly, material, and physical. God is concerned with how his people conduct themselves with others (13:16).
“Now the God of peace” is He who promotes peace among those who trust in Him (13:20). Jesus leads believers through any circumstances that may threaten peace because He is the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (13:21). The complete potential of each believer is to do “every good thing” in accordance with God’s will, and to produce in his/her life only “that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (13:21).
The message for us is to demonstrate those actions, attitudes, lifestyles, and sacrifices that are pleasing to God. We are wise to do so because such stability of life guides us in the present time, and will culminate in eternal reward when beholding God face-to-face.
God's Grace and Peace to You,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia